Thousands of boot camps are sprouting up across the country and their popularity isn’t waning. It’s no wonder, with the American Council on Exercise estimating that the average boot camp workout burns an impressive 9.8 calories per minute. That’s almost 600 calories burned in an hour-long workout. Another benefit of many boot camps is that they’re an alternative to repetitive workouts, offering creative exercises that burn calories, build strength and keep you engaged.
The lunge has long been a staple boot camp exercise because it doesn’t require any equipment and works all of the larger muscles in the lower body. But while regular lunges can become monotonous, lunge variations can keep you challenged and offer the same benefits. Try forward walking lunges for an advanced option, or even better, do reverse walking lunges, which will not only build strength but also increase your coordination.
The National Strength and Conditioning Association calls the pushup the “ultimate foundation movement” because it provides a total-body workout. Pushups are another efficient and effective body-weight exercise that can be altered and made more creative. In the T-pushup, you rotate your body to alternating sides each time you push up and you raise your upper arm to the sky. The Spiderman pushup is an even more challenging move because it incorporates movement in your lower body as well. Each time you lower your body, lift an alternating leg off the floor and bring your knee out sideways to try to touch your elbow.
Core training continues to be an important exercise trend because it improves overall stability, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. But core exercises don’t necessarily mean traditional crunches. There are several creative boot camp alternatives including the mountain climber. Set up in a pushup position and bring your knees forward, one at a time, toward your elbows. The mountain climber itself has many variations. To make it more challenging, you can bring both your legs forward and back together in a move that is often called the squat thrust. Put a towel under each foot and alternately slide your feet forward or slide both feet forward and back together for an extreme cardio burn.
Many boot camps offer creative exercises using the latest exercise equipment. Kettlebells, for instance, are becoming more popular in boot camps. While the swing is a basic kettlebell move, a creative alternative is the walking kettlebell swing. In this exercise, you set up as you would for a normal swing but each time you swing the bell up, you take one step forward. Another piece of equipment that is gaining popularity is the battling rope. Standing in a squat position, hold the ends of this heavy rope and swing it up and down or side to side for a full-body cardio and strength workout.
- American Council on Exercise: Drop and Give Me 20!
- Muscle and Fitness: Use Stationary and Walking Lunges to Blow Up Your Legs
- National Strength and Conditioning Association: The Push-Up: The Ultimate Foundation Movement
- American College of Sports Medicine: Body Weight Training: Emerging Trend in Annual ACSM Fitness Survey
- Shape.com: Mountain Climbers with Towel
- Fitness Magazine: Bridal Boot Camp: The Workout: Squat Thrust
- OneResult.com: Kettlebell Swing Variations You Have to Try
- Warrior Sciences: Battle Ropes
- Mike Powell/Digital Vision/Getty Images